Before Employment and Support Allowance there was Incapacity Benefit.
IB was blamed by politicians for abandoning people on benefits and encouraging malingering. ESA was supposed to get tough on the workshy and give people more support and encouragement to return to work.
Yet on IB, around 25% of people started work within a year of claiming benefits. On ESA and the Work Programme that figure is approximately 5%.
"Eileen" explains how different things were under Incapacity Benefit.:
"The much-maligned Incapacity Benefit kept me alive while giving me the space to explore the possibility of returning to work. I was able to participate in back-to-work programmes on a voluntary basis, which eventually led to a paid job. Later on, I was able to keep my hand in by doing permitted work, without having to worry about losing my benefit or being threatened with sanctions. Best of all, I was being treated as a responsible adult, not as a child or a malingerer, and felt I had some control over my life."